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Obama Considering a Trip to Iraq — Should He Pack His Bags?

Barack Obama said yesterday that he's considering visiting American troops and commanders in Iraq over the summer. Though McCain offered to accompany him on a joint trip, Obama declined the invite saying, “I just don’t want to be involved in a political stunt.”

The trip is part of his plan to take a foreign trip after he secured the Democratic presidential nomination, though no details have been set, he says, “Iraq would obviously be at the top of the list of stops."

The last time Obama had his passport stamped in Iraq was January 2006 as part of a Congressional delegation to the Middle East. Obama's been criticized for this lapse recently in an ad that called attention to it.

McCain responded to the possible trip by saying he was “glad to hear that Senator Obama is now, quote, considering a trip to Iraq.” McCain has a countdown on the issue saying, “It’s long overdue. It’s been 871 days since he was there.”

Would a joint trip be a stunt or a show of unity? Is McCain right to be counting how long it's been since Obama was there? Is a visit an important part of the campaign?

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hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Jen, thank you SO MUCH for this statement " I think there are a lot of soldiers who would vastly prefer that people NOT enlist just to get access to college money in the near term. Most want the person to the left and the right of them to want to be a soldier, not just passing time until they get their college money." That is right on the money! I couldn't figure out a way to say it where I wouldn't be accused of being "antimilitary"! Jill - I agree there are some people who get in for good reasons, but there are A LOT more people who get in and stay in for the bonuses etc, etc, and really couldn't give a hoot about what kind of job they are doing. And the sad fact is that military pay and promotion is NOT based on talent and how good you are at your job. Maybe the solution isn't in denying benefits, but making them performance based?? :shrug: That would take a whole lotta restructuring! :)
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"Others joined because they had no clue what they wanted to do with lives after high school." This is why many people that I know joined. They wanted to mature, be responsible, build some inner strength. It is a serious commitment, so from my perspective, I don't see these people as not wanting to be soliders, even if they don't know if it will be their long term career. Several of my friends who signed up this way 12 years ago is still serving.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
Most of the people I know went into the military so they could pay for college. Others joined because they had no clue what they wanted to do with lives after high school. They all worked hard, as far as I know. Several re-enlisted.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Ok, way too much has gone on for me to respond point by point, Jillness. Darn life getting in the way of Citizen! ;) So, just to the last point, I think there are a lot of soldiers who would vastly prefer that people NOT enlist just to get access to college money in the near term. Most want the person to the left and the right of them to want to be a soldier, not just passing time until they get their college money. If my husband and most of his peers had their way, the military would be vastly reduced, much of the support work would be done by civilian contractors and the soldiers who were in would be actual soldiers and want to be soldiers. I get the feeling McCain has similar views and isn't looking to just get warm bodies in and to lavish benefits and rewards on very short-term soldiers. He's been pretty adamant that he wants to see tiered programs that acknowledge the difference in serving for a few years and serving for the long term.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I think we will have to just agree to disagree on this one! As always, I really enjoy reading your comments and hearing from your perspective! :) As for the GI Bill, did you have any thoughts about my questions about recruitment enticements (the 3 vs. 12 years)? It is at the bottom of the really windy post I made a few posts ago....or one of the really windy posts, I should say! ;)
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Actually, you are completely inferring that McCain is saying that Obama can't have an opinion on the GI Bill. In my opinion, McCain is saying that he doesn't appreciate Obama's questioning of his dedication to veterans. I guess we all see what we want to see. (Myself included.)
Jillness Jillness 9 years
IMO, McCain directly addressed that he didn't want to hear anything from Obama on the GI Bill issues. From what Obama said, the first half of his sentance contradicts your point, and only the 2nd half of the sentance mildly suggests otherwise. One is direct, and one has to be inferred, IMO.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
"All you have to support that VERY heavy accusation is half of a sentence. It just seems to be a case of rush to judgment, IMO." "John McCain slammed the door shut on productive discussion. He simply said, I am a vet, you can't question me on military issues." It seems to me that you are making a VERY heavy accusation based on one sentence, as well.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"If he is as open minded as everyone here claims him to be, then why wouldn't he go?" He has been in the middle of a extremly tough campaign, if you haven't noticed. I think he should go if he gets the nomination, of course, but it makes complete sense that he didnt' have the opportunity between throwing in his bid and possibly getting the nomination. I also think it is a vast overstatement to say that Obama doesn't "get" the difference between the 2 days. All you have to support that VERY heavy accusation is half of a sentance. It just seems to be a case of rush to judgement, IMO. As for the GI Bill, I have wondered...what would entise a 18 year old to join more: the option to get a college scholarship after 3 years or when you are 30 years old? I think that the GI Bill would increase enlistment, and then the military has 3 years to pursuade these troops to stay longer. I think that making it available after 12 years would decrease enlistment. There were MANY republicans who voted for this bill, and to me, John McCain slammed the door shut on productive discussion. He simply said, I am a vet, you can't question me on military issues.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Can I get a copy of that list?
stephley stephley 9 years
I just mean that the pastors are a side-show all their own and not relevant to the important issues. Everyone's had supporters who have said stupid things. Clinton's kept her religious connection fairly quiet, but Ferraro handled stupid for her.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
By the way, can I get a list of what the "real issues" are?? I'm being told almost daily that whatever comes up against Obama isn't a "real issue"... To me, making an opinion on an ever changing war without visting in over 2 years is a real issue... Sooooo, can someone write up a list of what the real issues are so I can avoid all the fake issues? :)
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Hey guys! Just wanted to drop in with some thoughts... 1) Hypno I'm on my way to your door with cupcakes! Brace yourself! :) 2)Jill - yea, thats was the Memorial Day thing I mentioned, I know it may seem trivial to some, but to those that are in it everyday, I can see why they would be hard pressed to want to vote for someone who doesn't get the difference between the TWO days of the year that everyone is supposed to know about the military AND who wants to pull them out of their job and claim defeat ASAP. Also, I think "young man" is condescending and I think the whole going to Iraq together thing is dumb and does sound like a dare from McCain, but hey! He's gotta be pretty bored right?? ;) And I think that Obama SHOULD go back to Iraq as soon as he can because even though he was there 2 years ago, we have made a lot of progress in those 2 years esp. with the surge. If he is as open minded as everyone here claims him to be, then why wouldn't he go? Why wouldn't he be open to the option that good things are happening and maybe we don't need to leave ASAP? Doesn't sound very open minded to me... but we all know the reason he won't concede to any of that is because the majority of his run is staked on his opposition to Iraq. As for how McCain treats Veterans... Come on. I'll agree that he hasn't been forthcoming with the reasons why he voted down that last Bill, but to assume that it must be because he isn't for veterans rights would be pretty silly. There are many things that go into why someone votes down a bill, remember the nuances Jill? ;) And as much as I love our troops, throwing money at the problem almost never solves it. So I'll withhold my condemnation until I see the other side.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
That quote is just about veterans, not about war and peace. And, McCain did not support one form of an addition to the GI Bill. However, he supports an alternate form. Also, I remember watching CSPAN 2 and Obama did have some pretty scathing remarks for those who did not support the same version of the GI Bill addendum that he supports. I will give you that he didn't call out McCain specifically.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
When McCain said the following, IMO, he was saying that anyone one who has not served doesn't have a place in the national discussion about War, Peace, and Veterans: "And I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did," IMO, there are MANY ways to serve your country. I think it is such a nobel thing that our service men and women do, but police officers, social workers, teachers, legislators, volunteers, etc. also serve our country in many ways. I think that McCain could have illustrated why he chose not to support the GI Bill...instead of just insulting Obama. Obama did not insult McCain when he disagreed with him. He just said he didn't understand why he would be against the bill.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I didn't mean to imply that he was Obama's pastor, just that the story involved Obama and a pastor; excuse my previous wording.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
It wasn't Obama's pastor, but he was an adviser to Obama.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Jill, McCain most definitely did not say that anyone who didn't serve doesn't have a valid opinion. And Stephley, I'm curious as to what people have to say about Pfleger; I really don't think he has been "worn in to the ground," considering that the story just broke recently.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
It wasn't even Obama's pastor. It was a Catholic Priest.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Jennifer, considering the parade of publicity that followed McCain's last trip to Iraq, I can see why Obama would see the benefit to a focused trip. I found this and thought it was interesting: It is the John McCain they don't know. If the media weren't so mesmerized by the McCain image they have long promoted and instead got to know the McCain record, they would realize that there is nothing surprising or inconsistent about his position on the GI Bill. For years he has opposed legislation that veterans and their advocates deem vital. In doing so, he is simply being true to the contemporary conservative wing of the GOP and its leader, George W. Bush, in opposing social programs and benefits for individuals, even if those individuals happen to be veterans. The only surprise is that anyone finds this surprising "McCain's rationalization for opposing the bill may not hold water, but his stance makes perfect sense in light of his record. From 2004 to 2006, the Disabled Veterans of America gave him annual scores ranging from 50% to the most recent 20% when it comes to supporting the group's legislative priorities. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave him a grade of "D" in its most recent analysis of voting records. The American Legion says he is dead wrong on the GI Bill, as does the Veterans of Foreign Wars. When Obama (who has averaged an 86% rating from the Disabled Veterans of America) criticized McCain on the GI Bill, the Arizona senator angrily suggested that Obama's status as a non-veteran rendered his opinions on military matters worthless (an odd stance, as this standard would also discount the opinions of 85% of American men, 98.8% of American women and two-thirds of Congress). Then he invited a look at his own record by asserting, "I take a back seat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans."
stephley stephley 9 years
I think we've worn the pastor issue into the ground on both sides.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I think that is a bit of over anaylsis. He clearly says, "On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes"...which is correct. Yes, the way he pointed out the Veterans was a little awkward, but I don't think it is that damning. When Obama's camp responded, I believe they were talking about how McCain used Veterans day to say that anyone who hasn't worn a uniform doesn't have a valid opinion.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Actually, you're right, it would have been more accurate for me to say I'm seriously concerned that he considers working with someone from another party to visit Iraq a political stunt. As for the Memorial Day confusion, in his speech on Memorial Day he said this:
On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today — our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.
When McCain called him out on that, his campaign's response was this:
“Memorial Day is a day to honor our nation’s veterans, not a day for political posturing.”
And, as anyone with any knowledge of the military and the way we honor it as a country knows, Veteran's Day is a day to honor our nation's veterans. Memorial Day is the day we honor those who have died serving their country. The fact that he is completely unaware of that, and then brushed it off as an unimportant distinction doesn't show a lot of interest in or respect for those who have served and those who have died serving.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
By the way Citizen/Liberty...when are we going to hear about the latest Obama pastor. I'm just curious to know what people think!
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
The Memorial Day flub was when he talked about Memorial Day honoring all of the veterans in the audience. Memorial Day honors those who died; Veterans Day honors living veterans.
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